RELATIONS between Saint Lucia and Venezuela are at the crossroads this weekend, following a flurry of diplomatic exchanges that could very well have implications for future relations between Saint Lucia and one of its closest Caribbean allies, Venezuela.
This week saw the start of what will most likely be a series of tit-for-tat actions by Castries and Caracas in response to the latest developments involving US-backed efforts to isolate Venezuela within the Latin American and Caribbean region, ostensibly to force the Nicolas Maduro administration to change path from its avowed socialist goals and objectives.
The Lima group, comprising member-states of the Organisation of American States (OAS) supportive of Washington’s opposition to Venezuela, issued a statement ahead of Thursday’s inauguration of Maduro for a second term, condemning his election and promising a series of common actions aimed at isolating Venezuela from its Caribbean and Latin American neighbours.
Caracas responded with a firm statement accusing the Lima Group of plotting a coup ahead of his inauguration.
With St. Lucia and Venezuela as the only two CARICOM member-states in the Lima Group, Caracas dispatched individual letters to concerned member-states, including Saint Lucia, seeking clarifications as to whether they have in fact agreed to break ties with Venezuela.
In Saint Lucia’s case, the Venezuelan Embassy delivered a similar letter to the saint Lucia Government, requesting a response within a certain period – and promising equally appropriate responses.
As The VOICE went to press, there was no information available as to what the saint Lucia Government’s response was, is, or will be. But it is expected that come Monday, Caracas will be knocking on Castries’ doors for a firm response.
Meanwhile, President Maduro began his second term in office Thursday after he was sworn-in at the country’s Supreme Court, with leaders and delegations from 94 nations – including three CARICOM and OECS member-state (Dominica, Saint Kitts and Nevis and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) attending the event, along with representatives from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the African Union (AU), UNASUR, CELAC and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
Maduro welcomed the new term, for which he committed to “promote the changes that are needed in Venezuela, to defend the right to peace and respect for the Constitution.”
On May 20 last year, Maduro was re-elected President of Venezuela with 67.7 percent of the vote.
He began his inauguration speech by thanking world leaders and the representatives of nearly 100 countries who attended.
“Our Bolivarian constitution is an expression of peace and of the people,” Maduro said.
The inauguration came amid claims of threats of military interventions and coups.
Maduro’s new mandate also comes despite the economic war unleashed against his government by the United States and its European allies, using economic sanctions.
“Here I am, ready to take our country forward. Here we are with our democracy and our people.”
A day earlier, Maduro referred to a coup attempt he claimed had been ordered by the Donald Trump administration and the Lima Group that includes a minority of South American and Caribbean bOAS member-states.
“Venezuela has a solid democracy, so any problem that we have will be dealt with by Venezuelans without interference from any country,” Maduro said.
However, Maduro has begun his second term with all the assurances that it might not be anywhere as easy as his first might have been.